JUSTICE Department wants appeals court to move ahead with antitrust case against software giant

Saturday, August 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice Department says the Supreme Court is unlikely to review the Microsoft antitrust case and there should be no delay in punishing the company for monopolizing the computer software market.

The top antitrust lawyer in the Bush administration said waiting to sanction Microsoft will only further disrupt the computer market.

Microsoft wants a delay, at least until the Supreme Court decides whether to step into the 4-year-old case.

But in court papers filed Friday, Assistant Attorney General Charles A. James asked a federal appeals court not to grant Microsoft's request for a suspension in court action.

The appeals court should instead send the case to another judge, who would then decide what punishment the computer software giant should face for breaking antitrust law, government lawyers said.

``Until that remedy is in place, each day of delay contributes additional injury to the public interest in competition,'' James wrote in the filing.

The administration argued that Microsoft has little chance of winning an appeal it filed with the Supreme Court earlier this week and asserted that the high court isn't even likely to hear the case.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said the company still hopes to resolve the case through a settlement with the government. In the meantime, a delay would give the Supreme Court time to act, he said.

``We've asked the Supreme Court to review an important issue, and we believe the process is best served by waiting for the resolution of this matter before proceeding,'' Desler said.

It was not clear when the appeals judges might act. The appeals court issued a mixed ruling earlier this summer. It agreed with a lower trial judge that Microsoft harmed competition in the computer software market, but rejected the lower judge's order to break Microsoft into two companies.

The appeals court planned to send the case back to a different lower court judge to decide Microsoft's penalty, in view of critical comments about Microsoft made out of court by District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. This is the portion of the case Microsoft wants to delay.